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The Mass Media

Album Review: The California Honeydrops “A River’s Invitation”

Bay Area band The California Honeydrops just dropped a new album, titled The Rivers Invitation, a continuation of their warm and retro style.

Bay Area band The California Honeydrops just dropped a new album, titled “The River’s Invitation,” a continuation of their warm and retro style.

The California Honeydrops’ 2015 release, “A River’s Invitation,” is nothing short of entertaining. With influences from blues to funk to jazz and more, “A River’s Invitation” is, well, inviting. It’s warm and playful, soulful and smooth, and can give voice to a whole spectrum of emotion. Lech Wierzynski’s velvety yet powerful vocals combined with Johnny Bones’ saxophone and Lorenzo Loera’s funky keys flesh out the bare-boned structure that percussionists Ben Malament and Beau Bradbury have built.
The Honeydrops, native to the musical streets of San Francisco, have seamlessly blended a myriad of different influences in order to find and master their unique sound. Mixing together little tastes of R&B, funk, Southern soul, Delta blues, gospel, and adding just a pinch of psychedelic groove, the sound is reminiscent of Wierzynski’s childhood, where he holds fond memories of sneaking old American blues records into his room in Poland; this drove the band in creating each tasteful track.  
The opening title track, “A River’s Invitation,” is a borrowed and revamped Percy Mayfield tune that lights the spark of the rest of the album. While some tracks, like “Lead Me Home,” “On a Rainy Day,” and “Rockaway,” follow the soft and slow tone that is set through this track, there are other songs that break away from the obvious jazz platform that the CA Honeydrops use. “When It Was Wrong” and “Crazy Girls” introduce more grooving and unbelievably fun melodies that are nearly impossible to not dance to.  
While “A River’s Invitation” is a great listen for those in need of some soft ambiance, or even something to dance to, the album—as well as the band—serves more of a purpose than just a good time. “Long Way,” an upbeat, melodic tune, is a “call for progress” as Wierzynski says, speaking out on social and political issues, drawing its influence from the Black Lives Matter movement.
Dipping deep into a Muscle Shoals groove, “A River’s Invitation” is eclectic and wildly entertaining, and is most definitely a versatile soundtrack befitting of practically all of life’s adventures. Whether it’s accompanying a long car ride in the summer sun, or a fun night out with friends, this album is a feel-good, musical adventure that is sure to supply the soundtrack to the summer.  
Track Listing:
1. A River’s Invitation
2. When It Was Wrong       
3. Brokedown
4. Cry Baby Blues
5. Jolie
6. Crazy Girls
7. On A Rainy Day
8. This Time
9. Lead Me Home
10. Rockaway
11. Long Way